Out of 95 nominees, Elena Polinski is the only military child from West Virginia up for the 2018 Military Child of the Year Award.
She is also nominated for the Award for Innovation, meaning she could bring home up to $20,000 and other prizes if selected as the winner.
Operation Homefront presents the awards to military children who have made positive impacts on their families, schools, and communities.
Elena is being considered because of a program she started called “Miracle of Music.” It is a music therapy program for people with special needs.
“It shows her leadership in the community, her initiative by taking her program and pushing it out there in the public,” said Elena’s father and retired Marine David Polinski.
John Nanny with the Marine Corps League nominated Elena for the awards.
He says Elena’s father David was a “Marine’s Marine,” or someone his fellow Marines looked up to.
He sees many of the same qualities in Elena.
“I know Elena had a tough time when one of her father’s Marines was killed in Iraq. That was really traumatic for her. But in the same breath, it helped her overcome things and prepare herself to deal with anything. I just love this family, and she had to be nominated,” said Nanny.
Elena has received several other honors and awards for her community service work, but she says this one has special meaning.
“Not only am I representing myself, but I’m representing the Marines that have served and the families. As a military child, I’ve seen the sacrifices they’ve made. To win this would be in honor of my dad and the veterans,” said Elena.
If Elena wins the Award for Innovation, she will work with a team to grow and expand her music therapy program.